What Exactly is a Tri-Blend?
T-Shirt Trends
min read

What Exactly is a Tri-Blend?

Get the rundown on this mysterious t-shirt fabric, and recommendations for amazing tri-blend shirts.

Get the rundown on this mysterious t-shirt fabric and recommendations for unique tri-blend shirts.

Maybe you’ve heard of a tri-blend tee; maybe you haven’t. Regardless, if you’re someone who is a lover of INCREDIBLY soft clothing, you’ve got to check out tri-blend fabric because, to be honest? It’s a GAME CHANGER.

Since being in the custom apparel biz since 2009, we consider ourselves t-shirt aficionados, purveyors of great tees, or whatever term you can think of to indicate that we really like t-shirts.

That said, not everyone knows the ins and outs of t-shirts in the same way that we do, so when presented with the option to pick between t-shirts based on the makeup of the fabric, more likely than not, you'll have no clue what to choose.

Being unsure of what to choose can be problematic because when it comes to apparel, only a few factors can determine the look, feel, and overall outcome of a t-shirt more than the material it's made out of.

Shirts, for the most part, can be broken up into three main material categories:

1) 100% Cotton

2) Cotton/Polyester Blend

3) Tri-Blend

Those first two –– 100% cotton and cotton/polyester blends –– are pretty easy to comprehend because, well, it's in the name, but what in the world does tri-blend mean? Well, we're glad you asked. *winks*

Let’s Get Into It.

A tri-blend is a fabric made up of three different materials: cotton, polyester, and rayon. Rayon is undoubtedly the wild card here, as it's the least common (and most mysterious) material on that list. Rayon was initially created as a silk substitute, giving it a luxuriously soft feel. Made of cellulose fibers, it's also moisture-absorbent, making it an excellent choice for athletic or athleisure wear. Rayon alone doesn't make for a great t-shirt because of how light, thin, and drapey it would be, but combined with cotton and polyester, it makes for nearly the perfect garment.

What does a tri-blend shirt feel like?

REALLY soft. The added rayon and the polyester give tri-blend t-shirts a little stretch and add softness, making them incredibly comfortable to wear.

In terms of weight, tri-blends tend to lean on the lighter side of things, so if you're looking for a thicker, more heavy-weight option, tri-blends won't be your best fit. But if light and airy qualities are okay with you, this will be a match made in heaven.

How do prints look on tri-blend shirts?

Generally, tri-blends lend themselves nicely to faded, vintage-style prints.

When printing with water-based and discharge ink, the ink removes the color of the cotton in the fabric, replacing it with the color of the ink. The agent in ink (known as discharge) only removes the color in the cotton, though, meaning that with tri-blends, you can see some natural heathering in the shirt.

Take a look at the print results below:

As you can see, the print results on the two tri-blends are less vibrant than the two prints above, on 100% cotton and cotton/polyester, respectively.

Neither result is better than the other –– they're simply different. A tri-blend is the perfect route if you're looking for a naturally heathered, vintage print. If not, it could be worth it to print on a 100% cotton shirt or a polyester/cotton blend instead.

It is worth noting that achieving a bright, solid print on a tri-blend is possible. For example, using our Bold ink, the print will have a feel compared to our SuperSoft Ink, but it still feels great, doesn't crack or peel, and can give your design some extra pop.

Do tri-blend shirts shrink?

Tri-blends don't shrink much at all relative to 100% cotton shirts. You can expect a tiny amount of shrinkage, but it shouldn't affect the fit much in the long run.

Tried & True Tri-Blend Tees

Unsure of where to start your tri-blend tee search? We’ve narrowed down a list of some of the BEST of the best.

You learned what a tri-blend t-shirt is… now what?

We’ve explained to you what a tri-blend t-shirt is, and some of the best options on the market. Are you now feeling inspired to dawn a tri-blend tee of your own? Whether you’re on the hunt for super soft tees for your family reunion barbeque or a corporate 5k, custom tri-blend t-shirts are the way to go.

And guess what? Custom apparel is kinda our thing. Our amazing team of product specialists and customer success managers are here to help you pick out what tees are best for you and your needs.

We’re here for you, fam. Signing off. *Salutes you*

Originally Published 02/04/2021 | Updated 04/14/2023

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